Fine Motor-Finger Isolation
Finger Isolation is the ability to move each finger one at a time.  
Infants move all fingers together in unison.  As they develop,
children learn to move the fingers individually. This ability is
very important in the development of fine motor skills.  It
contributes to developing an efficient pencil grasp, typing on a
keyboard, playing musical instruments, tying shoelaces and
countless other daily living skills.
Therapy Street for Kids

Finger Isolation games and activities
  • play pointing games, such as "I Spy"; position child's hand to point with index finger extended outside of a fisted hand
  • use pointing finger while reading books and looking for objects in pictures
  • finger puppets
  • shadow hand puppets using a flashlight to cast a shadow on a wall
  • counting on fingers one at a time
  • use pointing finger to trace shapes, numbers, etc. in sand, shaving cream, on paper, and so forth
  • pick up small, light items on dampened fingertips of each finger (e.g., hole puncher cut-outs, sequins, glitter, beans, small beads)
  • place tape around each fingertip, sticky side out, to pick up small, light items listed above
  • musical instruments: castanets (finger symbols), recorder, tin whistle, toy flute, trumpet, toy piano, etc.
  • play finger soccer: teach child how to "flick" the ball into the goal.  Ball can be crumpled paper, ping pong ball, round bead, etc.
  • keypad gadgets: calculator, adding machine, telephone, toy cash register
  • finger games: Where is Thumbkin, Itsy Bitsy Spider
  • teach finger signs such as "A-OK", V for Victory, thumbs up/thumbs down, Number 1, etc.
  • gel and gak baggies for finger drawing on (see Homemade Play)
  • finger painting (see Homemade Play)
  • finger paint brushes (available at some teacher stores)
  • Practice making the American Sign Language alphabet with your fingers

Pinch strengthening and control  Be sure that the thumb and index finger (and middle finger if needed) are doing the holding and
  • Tongs, tweezers, connected chop sticks, strawberry hullers:  use these to pick up small objects for sorting, such as beads,
  • eye droppers: make colorful dribble art creations by placing drops of colored water on a paper towel or coffee filter
  • spinning tops
  • pick-up sticks, Jenga, Don't Spill the Beans
  • wind up toys
  • pegboard activities, Lite Brite
  • tiddly winks games, Ants in the Pants
  • tong games:  Operation, Crocodile Dentist, Bedbugs
  • Ziplok bags: encourage using fingertips to press and seal
  • Buttoning, snapping
  • pop beads
  • peel stamps and stickers
  • crumple small bits of tissue paper using fingertips, dip in glue and paste onto a paper plate or paper to make a flower bouquet
  • tear small pieces of paper with finger tips and paste them onto a sheet of paper to make a picture
  • when coloring, drawing and writing use short writing and drawing tools such as broken crayons, golf pencils, Pip Squeak markers,
    short colored pencils or small bits of chalk

Clay, therapy putty, Silly putty, play-doh, Sculpey, bread dough, modeling foam, see Homemade Play for putty
  • break off small pieces, then try rolling the putty or clay between the pads of the thumb and index finger to make small balls.
  • flatten small balls by pinching them between the pads of the thumb and index finger
  • starting with a larger round ball of putty or clay, form the thumb and index finger into a large round "C" shape, place the ball
    between the fingertips and try to pinch the fingers together.

Water play with spray bottles, water guns, squirt toys
  • spray bottles: help water plants or spray the windows to clean, play with it in the bathtub, play outdoors in warm weather, add
    food coloring to make spray bottle pictures in the snow.
  • water guns: outdoor summer fun as well as in the bathtub.
  • small squirt toys, often look like fish or animals, encourage pinching with 1 or 2 fingers opposite the thumb

Clothespin games:
  • use the pads of the thumb and index finger to open the clothespin rather than pinching it open against the side of the index finger
  • When pinching clothespins open, try alternating each finger to squeeze opposite the thumb.
  • place clothespins along the top of a container and then on top of each other to construct a design.
  • Pick up small objects with the clothespin: cotton balls, pompoms,crumbled paper, beads, pegs, etc.
  • Attach several clothespins along the bottom hem of shirt and then pull them off.
  • Place clothespins around an index card or a paper plate
  • Hang up pictures or plush toys on a string, like a clothesline.

Bubble Pack
  • pop the bubbles on large or small bubble pack by pinching with thumb and index finger or by pushing down on bubbles when sheet is
    placed on a hard surface.

Squeeze toys and materials
  • foam balls, animals and shapes: alternate each finger pinching toward the thumb using the foam toy as resistance
  • tennis ball "hungry guy":  make a slit in a tennis ball with a box cutter or exacto knife.  Draw "lips" around the slit, draw eyes,
    hair, etc., with a permanent marker.  When you squeeze the ball the mouth will open.  Hide pennies, pegs, beads and other small
    things inside.  Squeeze to open and shake out the contents, then feed the "hungry guy" by slipping in the "food".  The wider the
    slit, the easier it will be to open the mouth wide.  Start with a wide slit for young children.
  • rubber "pinky" balls
  • bulb syringe (usually in infant supply sections of stores) or turkey baster to squirt water, or have a race by squeezing them to
    blow cotton balls and pompoms across a finish line.
  • craft activities that require using bottles to squeeze: glue, glitter glue, puffy paint, fabric paint, etc.
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